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Have you noticed the abundance of gallery walls filling the design world lately? These days gallery walls are less about structure and perfect alignment and more about creating a unique, imperfect composition. Here are nine tips to keep in mind while creating a gallery wall of your own.

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1 – Mix and match. Gone are the days of rows of matching frames. Use wood frames, metal frames, fabric-covered frames – heck, even unframed pieces are game. And don’t count out tabletop frames. If you find one you are particularly drawn to, remove the prop from the back of the frame, add a wall hanger and put that bad boy on the wall. Use larger frames to create a base arrangement then fill in gaps with smaller frames.

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2 – Incorporate various mediums. Most people associate photographs and commissioned art with gallery walls but other artistic decor can be used as well. Try fabric remnants, petite shelves, sconces, prints, kid art, real/faux animal heads or antlers, mirrors, thrifted finds and decorative plates for an eclectic look.

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3 – Vary the spacing. Back away from the tape measure. And laser level. {I’m talking to you, HH.} Instead of exact spacing, focus more on the overall composition. Not every frame must be the same distance apart from its neighbors. One slightly crooked frame can be just the thing needed to loosen up a stuffy wall.

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4 – Go horizontal and vertical. Hang some pieces horizontally and others vertically to avoid too perfect arrangements.

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5 – Let asymmetry be your friend. A perfectly symmetrical arrangement feels formal and final. An asymmetrical layout feels casual and effortless, like it has been gathered and hung over time. Look at the wall as a whole and take away anything that makes the gallery feel cluttered or busy. Asymmetrical arrangements can be easily added onto so they can evolve with you.

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6 – Bigger is, well, bigger. Use the entire width and height of a wall for a dramatic effect. This is particularly useful when considering partial walls or walls that aren’t necessarily contained within a specific room – such as walls found in stairwells, nooks and landings.

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7 – Layer and connect. Gallery walls can look lonely if they aren’t connected to a piece of furniture or an architectural detail. Creating a gallery wall just above – or even slightly behind – a sofa, chair, console, desk or flatscreen TV connects the wall to the room. Automatically, the wall becomes part of a dimensional space instead of just falling to the background. Resting a frame or two on the floor, a desk, a table or even a chair rail bridges the gap between wall and room.

8 – Find inspiration. If you’re new to mixing and matching, asymmetry and eclectic arrangements, browse the internet for inspiration. Use your favorite online gallery wall as a spring board for your own.

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9 – Let it evolve. Just like rooms in your home, a gallery wall develops and evolves over time. A gallery wall is a visual story that should reflect your ever-changing loves and interests. Start with a basic arrangement and add to it as your heart desires!

images: Lonny

20 Comments

24.January.2013

I LOVE your tips! All of the images you chose are gorgeous. Here is the link to the gallery wall that I put up in my kitchen. It makes me smile EVERY day!

http://brightgreendoor.blogspot.com/2012/10/kitchen-art-gallery-wall.html

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replied on January 24th, 2013

WOW! Not only am I inspired by your gallery wall…the fact that you, oh, just happened to learn to drywall is amazing!

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24.January.2013

This is a huge favor but can u tell me the Sherwin willisms color that is closest to dry river bed? I gave had horrible luck with color match lately.

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24.January.2013

Love it but my apartment is so much smaller than those pics… any tips on having a gallery wall that doesn’t make a small apartment look so cluttered? thanks!

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replied on January 25th, 2013

I have a gallery wall in my 800 sq ft apartment and I think it helps keep the place looking LESS cluttered, as it draws the eye away from the floor (where every nook and cranny seems to be filled with a storage crate or basket) and up to the wall and brings more dimension to the room. My secret is using a mixture of large and medium frames that command attention without looking, well, cluttery.

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replied on January 29th, 2013

I hear you! Small space gallery walls are hard but I find if I place a rather large piece in the centre at eye level then scatter a few others of two varying sizes around it, it works. No more than 7 frames should help. Also maybe including something that isn’t in a frame (like a photo on mount board or a thin canvas) would lighten up the wall a bit? What do you think?

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replied on January 30th, 2013

Thanks girls! I’m working on a gallery wall for a small hallway that needs to second as a “organization hub” for the family.. thanks for the tips!!

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replied on January 29th, 2013

I totally think gallery walls can work in small spaces. Keep the frames medium to large in size for an uncluttered effect. I know so many people who feared the same “shrinking” effect that you describe but were pleasantly surprised to discover that stuff on the walls actually made the space feel bigger.

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replied on January 30th, 2013

Thanks Dana! I’m a bit fearful of the larger frames but will give it a try!

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24.January.2013

Great tips! I adore gallery walls and I’ve done several of them in my homes. I used to be rigid about spacing: I had to make sure every frame was exactly the same distance from its neighbor. I’ve since ditched that and let it be a little bit more free form. I can’t quite bring myself to do the asymmetrical arrangement though…maybe someday!

http://blue11interiors.blogspot.com/2012/09/how-to-hang-gallery-wall.html

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25.January.2013

I’m working on a gallery wall in our living room – it is anchored with a family portrait printed on canvas & gallery wrapped. I have a collection of family pictures from several generations. For all the color pictures I’m using a variety of black frames that I picked up over time on sale. For all the B&W pictures I’m using rosewood frames. I had a frame shop cut new mat of white with a black core. My need for symmetry and a more formal arrangement is met by keeping frame colors to a minimum and using a common mat. I’ve even managed to work an oval into the mix!

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25.January.2013

Great post. Thanks for the tip to incorporate different mediums! That is just the advice we needed!

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25.January.2013

The asymmetry would drive me nuts! I want to do a gallery wall and I think the hallway could use it. Our house is so small and the hallway so short that it would be nice to really make one wall stand out. Hmm.

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25.January.2013

I found that using butcher paper or newspaper cut to each pictures size helped me with placing. I probably switched things around 5 times before I found the perfect imperfect set up. :) Made it easy to hang when I added marks on the paper for where the nail hole should be too!

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25.January.2013

loving those walls. just got some new pictures printed and using these are my inspiration.

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28.January.2013

I think another great tip is to keep a theme for what is in the frames — colour, style, subject, etc., but still add something different for interest. For example, we have a full wall gallery wall down the one and only hallway in our condo (it’s about 10′ long between two doors). It is music themed, as hubby and I are huge music lovers. We have concert posters, framed signed albums, a collage of ticket stubs, signed CDs, framed festival bracelets, etc. We love it, we love that it has a theme, and we love that everything on the wall has very special meaning for us.

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Thanks for the tips! Decor is not my strength, so this definitely helps!

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29.January.2013

Love the tips! Thanks Dana! I’ve linked you into my post and finally posted photos of my gallery walls in our little house. I love them and will really miss them when we move.

http://heartsoulfamily.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/little-house-gallery-walls.html

Absolutely LOVE that music idea Liz! My hubby is a big music fan so this is something i might incorporate into our next place. Thanks!

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replied on January 29th, 2013

ADORABLE photos in your galleries!

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Thank you for sharing your tips for creating a unique gallery wall. We’ve yet to decorate ours as our living room walls are blank and some are needed in the kitchen (we have our dining table there).

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